There are quite a few "quick fix" pull apart bread recipes available, along with the famous monkey bread. Yet, the idea of a loaf of pull apart bread did intrigue me, but I would have to find a recipe that is from scratch. Yes, from scratch. I know when it comes to bread type recipes, we first think about the hours and hours of rising time...
In review, the rising time is minimal and the loaf came together rather quickly for this recipe. Also, another good point is that it is flexible. We all appreciate a good base recipe that you can change up, depending on the flavor you want -go savory with garlic butter or more sweet with cinnamon brown sugar.
The bread is flaky and crisp on the outside and the inside is fluffy and soft. The light, clean flavor of lemon makes it a perfect accompaniment to a hot cup of tea. The only issue I had was with the topping. I would have preferred a glaze with a stronger lemon flavor. The topping was thick and only had a hint of lemon flavor. The recipe below reflects the original ingredients and measurement, so you can alter it according to your personal taste.
Lemon Scented Pull Apart Coffee Cake
adapted from Baking for all Occasions
1/3 cup milk
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs, room temp.
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 3/4 cup flour
2 1/4 tsp of yeast or 1 pkg
Ingredients/ Lemon paste filling
3 tbs lemon zest
1 tbs orange zest
1/4 cup or 1/2 stick melted butter
1/2 cup sugar
Ingredients/ Cream Cheese Icing
1 tbs milk
1 tbs lemon juice
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 oz softened cream cheese
For the dough, start by filling the bowl of a stand mixer with 2 cups of flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Whisk together so all is evenly distributed and set aside. Then fill a medium size saucepan with milk and butter. Place the saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the butter is melted, remove from heat and add water. Using a candy thermometer, let cool until the temperature registers around 120 to 130 degrees. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Pour the milk mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until no dry streaks remain. Place the bowl back into the stand mixer. Turn the mixer on low with the beater blade attached. Add one egg and continue to beat on low for 30 seconds. Repeat the process with the additional egg. Once blended, turn off mixer and add 1/2 cup flour. Switch mixer back on to low speed and beat for 45 seconds. Pause a few times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle in 2 more tablespoons of flour and turn mixer up to medium speed. Beat for an additional 45 seconds.
Prepare a flat work surface by dusting with flour. Place dough on surface and gently knead for about a minute, adding 1 to 2 more tablespoons of flour. The end result should yield a smooth dough. Grease the interior of a medium-size bowl and shape the dough into a ball. Place the dough in the prepared bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled by placing in a warm area, preferably 75 degrees. This process should take about 45 minutes to an hour. As the dough rises, you can prepare the filling.
Mix both types of zests together in a small bowl with the sugar and set aside. Once the dough has risen for 45 minutes, go back and check for completion by making an indentation in the dough. If the dough does not expand back and the indention remains, the rising time is complete. Otherwise let rise another 5-15 minutes and test again.
Prepare a loaf pan (9x5x3) by buttering the interior and dust a flat surface with flour. Take the dough out of the bowl, deflate and roll out to form a rectangle. It should measure 12x 20 inches. Then cover the surface with the melted butter using a pastry brush.
Divide the rectangle into smaller sizes by cutting the 20 inch length into 5 pieces, 4 inches wide. Each piece will remain 12 inches long. Place about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar/zest mixture onto the center of one strip. Smooth it out on the strip, making sure it is covered evenly. Also, press lightly into the butter so that it adheres. Repeat the process with another rectangle. Stack the second rectangle (with filling facing up) on top of the first. Continue with the same steps until all 5 pieces are stacked into layers and coated with the filling.
Using a sharp knife, cut the stack into 6 pieces, 4 x 2 inches. Place each piece into the pan with the cut side up. The 4 inch part of the stack should be parallel with the short side of the pan. Once all the stacks are in the pan, the layers with fit snugly inside the 9 inch length of the pan and loosely in the 4 inch width of the pan. Cover the pan lightly with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled, starting with one 15 minute session.
After 15 minutes, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wait an additional 15 minutes rising time and test the dough for completion as you did with the first rising. The dough rising can take between 30 to 50 minutes. Once rising time is completed, place pa n in oven and let bake until golden brown on top. Bake time is 30-35 minutes. Be sure to check at the 25 minute mark to see if it needs to be covered with foil. You do not want it too brown.
During the bake time, make the frosting by beating together the cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add the lemon juice and milk, beating another minute until completely blended. Set aside. After the loaf is baked, remove the pan and sit on rack to cool for 15 minutes. Then invert the loaf twice, so the loaf is sitting on the cooling rack the same way it did to bake.
Slide a piece of wax paper under the rack and then frost the loaf with the cream cheese mixture. Serve warm by pulling layers off the sides.
**LAST YEAR: Dutch Love Letter Cookies*